In March, Erie Arts & Culture was approached by ServErie and the City of Erie to discuss a collaborative initiative being led by the non-profit organization and the municipality. This summer, efforts will be made to serve residents and businesses along East Avenue and the surrounding area through community engagement and scalable beautification projects. Wanting to contribute to this initiative, Erie Arts & Culture will work with artists Steve Mik and Brian Bonner to create a mural located on East Avenue.
As a unique approach to this project, Steve and Brian are developing a curriculum that they will teach through the Erie Center for Arts & Technology. Jude Shingle, ECAT’s Arts Program Director, will assist the artists with finalizing their curriculum, which will teach both the business and creative aspects of being an artist. In addition to helping design and create the mural, students will learn about community engagement, site selection and preparation, contract writing, mural conceptualization and design, material acquisition, painting, and more.
This spring and summer, ServErie and their volunteers will conduct boots-on-the-ground outreach to gauge the interests, aspirations, and priorities of those who live or operate businesses along East Avenue. Demonstrating a multi-pronged approach to community engagement, the City of Erie will lead East Avenue Jane’s Walks with community residents and business owners. Jane’s Walks are community-led walking tours and conversations inspired by the urban planner Jane Jacobs. These walks will encourage people to share stories about their neighborhoods, discover unseen aspects of their communities, and use walking as a way to connect with their neighbors. Additionally, Erie Arts & Culture will engage individuals who live or travel along East Avenue through an initiative called Equitable Erie, which is an effort to ask questions and collect answers that are geared towards identifying and dismantling systemic barriers.
“Teaching the importance of public art to young artists not only helps them to succeed as artists but as well rounded adults. Adults who understand that taking pride and ownership of their community is the first step in creating change. Beautiful communities are built by citizens who see opportunities for beautification and take the steps necessary to fulfill them. We hope to create more of that awareness in the minds of our young artists.” - Steve Mik, Artist
“ECAT is excited for Erie teens to work alongside professional artists. The opportunity to work alongside adult mentors, at a time when you are trying to figure out who you are, is transformational.” - Jude Shingle, Erie Center for Arts & Technology
“It is very important for young and inspiring artists to understand and know the business aspect of operating a creative business or pursuing a career as an artist. Everything has a process, and it can be pivotal to the success of any endeavor that the process is executed strategically. I believe that what students will learn through this project will be transferable to other endeavors they may face throughout their journeys.” Brian Bonner, Artist